NOS4A2 S01 Episode 05: The Wraith TV Review
NOS4A2 S01 Episode 05: The Wraith TV Review Metabox
Here there be SPOILERS for NOS4A2!
Episode 5 of NOS4A2 on AMC. Last week, we got the skinny on Bing’s disturbing, origins, Vic and Maggie have a sort-of falling out, and Haley takes her final ride with Manx, the wake of which disrupts the lives of Bing and Vic completely.
All of this episode manages to take place in Haverhill, MA. I’m as shocked as you are.
Haverhill, MA: Vic (Ashleigh Cummings) calls Maggie (Jahkara Smith), not necessarily to apologize but to talk to someone who understands because she can’t sleep. Since she’s recently crossed the bridge, her eye is red and bleeding. Maggie tells her to stick to the story about Bing being the perpetrator and to carefully avoid the giant hole in the story about a magic bridge and a supernatural child napper. Vic decides against sleep and heads to the garage to do what she does best – avoid problems by creating art. Over and over in a manic fugue, she carves tile after tile of Charlie Manx (Zachary Quinto) and the Wraith. The next thing she knows, it’s dawn and her father, Chris (Ebon Moss-Bachrach) and his side-piece Tiffany (Jamie Neumann) find her in a partially destroyed garage with dozens and dozens of prints of her nemesis and his car.
The following morning, Vic and Chris have a heart to heart. Chris talks about his PTSD and the inciting incident in Kuwait. Vic is completely unmoved. No one seems to understand what a hard time she’s having and she just wants to forget it all.
Linda (Virginia Kull) and Chris have a visit while Vic is at her mother’s house gathering a few things. They have their usually friendly conversation, with Linda insisting she’s done all of the heavy lifting and Chris blowing her off. Detective Tabitha Hutter (Ashley Romans) rolls up to ask Vic more uncomfortable questions about the body at the crime scene and her friendship with Bing Partridge (Ólafur Darri Ólafsson). Hunter wants to make Vic out to be the victim of grooming and can’t understand why the two would connect.
Tiffany tries to really lay the guilt on Vic about the linoleum she was planning on putting down in the kitchen. Vic apologizes again and offers to pay but it’s not enough, so Tiffany keeps twisting the knife until Vic snaps. When Chris returns with lunch, Vic tells him what Tiffany said, that she didn’t “sign up for this”. Tiffany would prefer all of the perks of a man without the cumbersome weight of the family that she stole him from.
Manx visits Bing, who is hiding in the basement from the police. Bing tells him how Vic found Sharon’s body and how she told the police and now the world is going to hell around his ears. Manx offers reassurances and gives him a story to tell the police. When Bing speaks with Det. Hunter, he sticks strongly to his story even when she implied that his sealed juvenile record contains sexual assault.
At the high school, Craig (Dalton Harrod) and Vic talk about Bing in the and Vic can’t wait to shake the dust off of Haverhill from her shoes forever and go to RISD. Craig expresses the best way he can that Vic is the best thing about Haverhill and he only too the art class to be near her. Now she can’t wait to get away from the town and by extension him. When he leaves she sees Bing pushing his usual janitorial cart and is alarmed because she was sure he’d be in Jail. Bing is angry that she’d tattle on him and is steadfast in his belief that killing Sharon was a good thing done in the best interest of Haley. Bing gives Vic an invitation from Manx to meet and come alone.
In Maggie’s motel room, Maggie and Vic try to hatch out a plan to meet Manx, even though Manx specifically said to come alone. Maggie is sure it would be a bad idea for Vic to use her knife (Bike) or her Inscape (Shorter Way Bridge) as Manx could be waiting to steal or destroy them, so she offers to drive. She also wants to get a plate number to take to the police. She is also sure The Shorter Way Bridge can only take Vic to a fixed point, which is why when Vic thought specifically of Haley, she found Sharon’s body. Since Vic can’t sleep and she doesn’t have a home to go to, she coerces Maggie to take her to Willa’s (Paulina Singer) party, where she proceeds to get as drunk as fast as possible. She runs into Drew and they discuss artsy stuff and her near-death experience when she was 8, as well as time, space and their place in the universe. It’s exactly how you’d imagine a high school party where rampant sex and alcohol abuse are taking place. They share a kiss. Maggie impresses Willa with her Scrabble tiles and she takes a very drunk Vic back to the motel to sleep.
In the morning, Vic slips alone out to see Charlie Manx at a bus station (Peter Pan Bus Lines, if you’re paying attention). She meets a young, and dare I say it, handsome Charlie Manx in his purple topcoat. Charlie recounts all of the times he’s dreamed of her. He tells Vic the Inscapes tend to cripple the creative using them, like her blinding headaches or Maggie’s stutter or his old age, but he’s figured out a workaround, kidnapping the children the Wraith turns into vampires by stealing their youth. He makes Vic a proposition – that she leaves her life and becomes the “mother” to his “children” at Christmasland. He further says that she belongs with him and she would be very welcome. Vic says she rather die and Manx reminds her that option remains on the table.
Maggie follows Vic anyway to the bus station and sees the Wraith in the parking lot. When Maggie puts her hand on the car door, it awakens the connection The Wraith has with Manx and he’s alerted to her presence. It runs her down in the parking lot while Vic watches. Manx climbs in and drives away.
Detective Hutter meets Vic at the hospital to question her again about Bing over a prone Maggie. Vic then spills the beans about all of it, which of course, Hutter doesn’t believe, especially not about the haunted car or the imaginary place called Christmasland or the Shorter Way Bridge in her mind that takes her places and helps her find things. This, of course, leads to Vic being committed because she sounds crazy.
If you’ve stuck with it this far, I’m proud of you. It’s not the best adaptation and it still feels over-burdened with the little stuff and without nearly enough weight to make it feel like a horror series. It’s still essentially a teen drama, and there is a lot of drama.
We have a new Detective on the case (yay), but sadly we have two “strong women” on lead roles who tend to fall apart or freeze or cry at the drop of a hat. Between Vic and Maggie Leigh. We almost have a complete person, but neither could carry the series without the other one showing up. It’s not the fault of the actresses, they’re doing the best they can with what they’re given. It’s the overall writing. It isn’t transcending genres so much as it’s barely putting in the work of any of them. It’s showing up for teen drama, and romance, and horror, and Lifetime Movie, but other than punching a clock, it’s not delivering the goods.
I’ll be sticking around until the end because I want to see how this plays out. We’re at the halfway point, and I’ve got nothing better to do on a Sunday night.
“I’d rather go swim Amity Island” a very clunky nod to Jaws (1975), which is a saying that will never catch on. It’s also said with such mush-mouth laziness, it’s nearly incomprehensible. I must have backed it up 5 or 6 times between when Craig said it to Vic and when Vic repeated it to Manx. It doesn’t help to have clever dialogue that’s called back if neither actor can articulate
The idea of kidnapping Vic for Manx’s children is likely a nod to the novel Peter Pan (Barrie, J.M., Hodder & Stoughton, 1911), as The Lost Boys and Peter needed a mother and Wendy was cheerily abducted to Neverland. That it takes place at Peter Pan Van Lines is a little on the nose.
See you next week.